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Supreme Court dismisses Additional Session Judge’s challenge to compulsory retirement

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The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition challenging the Full Court order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, recommending a retired Judge’s compulsory retirement and order of Governor of Haryana, accepting the recommendation made by the full court of P&H High Court.

A bench of Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice Ajay Rastogi found no merit in the petition.

The aforesaid events transpired, when certain complaints were made against the Judge, including one made by the Bar Association. Thereafter, an inquiry was made and as per a preliminary report in the year 2011 observed that there were “heavy unexplained bank transactions”. Post preliminary inquiry, the Administrative Committee of the High Court decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the judge and suspended him till the same is concluded.

The Judge after the charge-sheet was served upon him, in reply, stated that the transactions and large sum of money deposited in his accounts were from the maturity amounts of his LIC policies, sale of properties which were acquired by him before he entered the judicial service, maturity of PPF accounts and other bank bonds.  

After one Departmental Inquiry and two reports of Vigilance/ Disciplinary Committee; report one of 2018 which stated that charges levelled against the Judge were not proved and recommended that he be cleared of all the charges, and the second report in 2019 after the Full court referred the same back to Vigilance/ Disciplinary Committee, the Full court observed that the Departmental Inquiry authority has rightly rejected the defence plea raised by the Judge regarding retaining huge amounts of cash in hand for the substantial periods in the financial years concerned after admitting the withdrawals and deposits from the accounts specified in the Articles of Charge, which required no further proof, and the Full Court rejected both the Vigilance/ Disciplinary Committee reports and resolved that major penalty of compulsory retirement be imposed upon the delinquent Officer under Rule 4(1)(viii) of the Haryana Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1987.

Senior Advocate Manoj Swarup argued on behalf of the retired Judge and stated that two reports of the Committee had nothing against the petitioner. Furthermore, once the committee had concluded that there was nothing against the Judge; he further stated that such conclusion was actually on behalf of Full Court and iterated the judgment in State of Uttar Pradesh vs. Batuk Deo Pati Tripathi and anr.

Also Read: Delhi HC dismisses PIL for scrapping use of EVMs for elections, imposes Rs 10,000 cost

The bench, while dismissing the Writ Petition filed under Article 32, observed that the committee is formed by the Full Court for the convenience of transacting administrative business and for smooth functioning of day-to-day matters pertaining to control over the subordinate judiciary. “It does not however mean that even in the absence of Rules authorizing or empowering the Committee, the decision made by or conclusions arrived at by the Committee would be binding on the Full Court,” the bench added.

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